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The 3 Best Portable Air Conditioners of 2023

We buy and test models from Whynter, SereneLife, Black+Decker, and more to find the best
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Best Portable Air Conditioner of 2023
Credit: Jenna Ammerman
By Austin Palmer and David Wise  ⋅  Jun 2, 2023

Looking for an easy way to escape the heat without spending a ton of money or dealing with a significant install? We researched over 70 portable air conditioning units before purchasing the best 7 to pit against each other in a series of side-by-side tests. We used a lab-grade thermometer and high-quality data loggers to track how well and how quickly each model cooled off in our testing room. In addition to their cooling ability, we measured their power consumption and how much noise they generated. We highlight which product is best for the hottest climates, which is the friendliest to your power bill, and the most portable of them all.

We've tested a wide array of the best appliances for your home. If you're in the market for a top-ranked fans, top-ranked air purifier, or perhaps a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air in your home, we've done the hard work for you by testing and comparing products to determine the best overall model for every application.

Editor's Note: We updated our portable air conditioner article on June 2, 2023, to ensure product availability and to edit for clarity.

Top 7 Product Ratings

Displaying 6 - 7 of 7
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Price $420 List
$299.99 at Amazon
$390 List
$399.99 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Inexpensive, relatively lightQuiet, programmable start and stop times
Cons Poor cooling capabilitiesAverage performance across the board, awkward to carry
Bottom Line An affordably priced model that is sufficient for smaller rooms, but has subpar cooling capabilitiesThis unit receives average scores in every testing metric and has a high list price for its performance
Rating Categories Black+Decker BPACT08WT Vremi 10,000 BTU
Cooling Power (40%)
Portability (25%)
Noise (20%)
Energy Cost (15%)
Specs Black+Decker BPACT08WT Vremi 10,000 BTU
Remote Yes Yes
Timer Set up on the remote only Yes
Interface location Top Top
Modes Cool, dry, fan Cool, dry, fan
Number of Fan Speeds 4 4
Cord Wrap Yes Yes
Measured Weight 51.3 lbs 54.4 lbs
Window Kit Length (without modification) Min: 20.5"
Max: 59"
Min: 20"
Measured kWh on High (Average) 0.8 kWh 0.95 kWh
Measured dBa on High at 4' 58.4 dBa 58 dBa
Room Rating 300 sq ft 250 sq ft
BTUs 8,000 10,000
Single or Dual hose Single Single
Projected Summer Cost $113.62 $132.51
Measured Temperature Drop After 60 Minutes 6.4°F 8.37ºF

Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner

SereneLife SLPAC10

  • Cooling Power 6.0
  • Portability 9.0
  • Noise 4.0
  • Energy Cost 7.0
BTU: 10,000 | Hose Configuration: Single
Insert is very easy to install or remove
Fairly easy to move
Scored well regarding power consumption
Decent cooling power
Somewhat loud

If you're seeking an all-around AC unit that won't break the bank, we recommend the SereneLife SLPAC10. This value option holds its own against and even outperforms some models that cost quite a bit more. We love how easy this machine is to move from room to room with the tool-free window insert setup. It also did reasonably well in our cooling performance tests and had below-average energy consumption compared to other units we tested.

Although it did a decent job of cooling down our test space, this model couldn't quite hold its own against some of the larger dual-hose units. For most people, this won't be a big deal. However, those who live in sweltering climates (routinely 100+ degrees Fahrenheit) and who need to run the AC constantly are better off with a larger and more powerful unit.

Read more: SereneLife SLPAC10 review

best overall portable air conditioner
Power consumption will vary by operating mode.
Credit: Laura Casner

Best Dual Hose Model

Whynter ARC-122DS Elite

  • Cooling Power 6.0
  • Portability 6.0
  • Noise 8.0
  • Energy Cost 5.0
BTU: 12,000 | Hose Configuration: Double
Handles hot weather well
Decently portable
Very quiet

The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is a terrific portable air conditioner and one of the top competitors in our test group. The unit is tranquil and unobtrusive, making it a great option for those who have difficulty focusing or sleeping with white noise in the background. It also performed rather well in our cooling tests, and the design is reasonably portable. It is a dual-hose air conditioner, which cools much better than single-hose models when outside temperatures skyrocket, making this unit a great purchase if you live in a hot climate.

Unfortunately, this unit is a larger upfront investment and it also wasn't the most economical model in our energy consumption assessment. Additionally, the large size and double-hose system are not the most aesthetically pleasing. However, the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is superb for anyone who needs maximum cooling power in hot climates.

Read more: Whynter ARC-122DS Elite review

portable air conditioner - best dual hose model
The ARC-122DS Elite has an average cost to run.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Great for Large Rooms

Whynter ARC-14SH

  • Cooling Power 8.0
  • Portability 5.0
  • Noise 8.0
  • Energy Cost 2.0
BTU: 14,000 | Hose Configuration: Dual
Exceptional cooling power
Impressively quiet
Uses more energy than average
Harder to move

The Whynter ARC-14SH is one of our favorite dual-hose options. If you live in a particularly hot climate, we suggest considering a dual-hose model. They are usually much more efficient than single-hose varieties, as you don't lose any cold air to the outside. Over an hour, it imposed one of the most significant temperature drops on our test room and has the listed capacity to handle spaces up to 500 square feet.

Unsurprisingly, this unit consumes quite a bit of electricity, and the dual hoses make it a little more cumbersome to move around and set up. It also tends to be expensive, but it is our top recommendation if you need maximum cooling power.

Read more: Whynter ARC-14SH review

portable air conditioner - the arc-14sh from whynter.
The ARC-14SH from Whynter.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Compare Products

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Score Product Price
SereneLife SLPAC10
Best Overall Portable Air Conditioner
Editors' Choice Award
Whynter ARC-14SH
Great for Large Rooms
Top Pick Award
Whynter ARC-122DS Elite
Best Dual Hose Model
Editors' Choice Award
Airo Comfort
Midea 3-in-1
Black+Decker BPACT08WT
Vremi 10,000 BTU

Why You Should Trust Us

Since 2018, we've tested 13 different portable air conditioning units. We purchased all the portable air conditioners used in this review from major retailers at retail prices. The Cooling Power score carries the most weight. We tested each unit in the peak summer heat, comparing their cooling power head-to-head using calibrated high-end thermometers and temperature loggers. We also weighed and measured the power draw of each appliance so you can know what you're getting into by running these models. Finally, we rated the ease of rolling and carrying these supposedly portable products.

Our testing of portable air conditioners is divided across four rating metrics:
  • Cooling Power tests (40% of overall score weighting)
  • Portability tests (25% weighting)
  • Noise tests (20% weighting)
  • Energy Cost tests (15% weighting)

Our portable air conditioner testing and review team is composed of Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Buck Yedor. Combined, the three have tested dozens of appliances for GearLab and bring a wealth of knowledge and analytical thinking to this review. Having grown up in the heat of Texas, Austin knows all too well how important a quality air conditioner can be. David has a degree in mechanical engineering and lends his experience with data acquisition, instrumentation, and heat transfer to the design and execution of our testing process. Buck brings it together with clear and concise explanations that make their results accessible and easy to understand.

portable air conditioner
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Analysis and Test Results

To determine which portable air conditioner is the best, we conducted extensive research and evaluated the top models currently on the market. We then bought the most promising models available and compared their performance side-by-side, grading them in four weighted rating metrics: Portability, Cooling Power, Noise, and Energy Cost.


Many of these products cost a pretty penny. Some notable exceptions are the SereneLife SLPAC10 and the Black+Decker BPACT08WT. These units both performed exceptionally well compared to the more expensive models. The SereneLife is our recommendation if you can spend a little more on your air conditioning investment, and the Black+Decker is a good option if you are shopping on a minimal budget. Even better, both these models scored reasonably well in our energy consumption test, potentially helping keep your electricity bills down.

Cooling Power

Since cooling a room is the primary use for each product, this is one of our test's most essential and heavily weighted metrics. To rank and score the cooling power of these units, we compared how well each product could cool our test room in 60 minutes. While these units all have different BTU and room size ratings, our 161 square foot test room was well within the listed performance ratings of each product.

We did the test simultaneously each day in the middle of summer, with similar amounts of sunlight entering the room to keep the outdoor temperature as controlled as possible. We then heated the room with a set of space heaters — usually well above 90°F — and then let the room reach a steady temperature before starting the test, so we didn't artificially improve the cooling power of the ACs as it naturally cooled off. We measured the starting ambient temperature and recorded the temperature drop achieved in 60 minutes.

The Whynter ARC-14SH led the way in this test. This unit is rated for up to 500 square feet, and it dropped the temperature of our testing room by 11.99°F. A group of AC units tied for the runner-up position with moderate performance in our cooling challenge, including the SereneLife SLPAC10 and Whynter ARC-122DS Elite.

The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite chilled the room by an even 10°F. The SereneLife SLPAC10 narrowly outperformed all the units, dropping the temperature by 11°F. We thought this was quite interesting, as there is a stark difference between these models' room ratings and BTU values. The 10,000 BTU SereneLife is rated for 350 square feet, while the 12,000 BTU Whynter Elite is rated for rooms up to 400 square feet.

portable air conditioner - the whynter elite puts out some cold air.
The Whynter Elite puts out some cold air.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Airo Comfort had the lowest temperature drop, coming in last place in the cooling metric. This 10,000 BTU unit is allegedly effective for areas up to 350 square feet but only dropped the temperature in our smaller room by six degrees after 60 minutes.

portable air conditioner - its light weight and decent handles make the black+decker a breeze...
Its light weight and decent handles make the Black+Decker a breeze to move around.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


After seeing how well these products cool a room, we evaluated and scored how mobile these purportedly portable air conditioners are. This metric is based on how much effort it takes to roll each air conditioner around, how maneuverable they are, the ergonomics of the handles, the difficulty we had in carrying them, and how hard it is to install and remove the window inserts.

It turns out that portability is a relative term in this case. None of these appliances are especially easy to transport. While they can be occasionally transferred from room to room or removed and taken to storage seasonally, you probably won't move these units around much throughout your day to save on energy costs, as you might with a fan or space heater. On average, it took about 15 to 20 minutes to remove the window insert, move the AC to a nearby room, and reinstall the insert.

portable air conditioner - the handles on the serenelife are fairly comfortable to hold but...
The handles on the SereneLife are fairly comfortable to hold but could be a little deeper.
Credit: Laura Casner

Claiming the top spot for portability is the SereneLife SLPAC10. This model is agile and maneuverable, effortlessly rolling across hard surfaces. It also isn't too challenging to carry for short durations, though it does tip the scales at a bit over 50 pounds, and we wouldn't be thrilled if we had to haul it up or down multiple stairs.

portable air conditioner - we love how easy it is to install the serenelife&#039;s window insert.
We love how easy it is to install the SereneLife's window insert.
Credit: Laura Casner

In particular, the ease of removing and installing the window insert impressed us with the SereneLife, which is what makes it so portable. Its tool-free installation process can be accomplished quickly, minimizing the hassle of moving this appliance to another room.

The Whynter ARC-122DS Elite is relatively easy to roll around, offering barely any rolling resistance, and is one of the more maneuverable models. However, we noticed that it could be finicky when it comes to turning, seemingly having a much greater affinity for continuing in a straight line than pivoting. It is also easy to set up the window insert, though it does require a screwdriver to tighten the pair of screws that lock in the length. However, the Whynter's handle design is inconvenient and hard to grasp. It's also on the heavier side. All these drawbacks make it a pain to haul around.

portable air conditioner - a dual hose &amp;#40;the whynter elite&amp;#41; set up in a window.
A dual hose (the Whynter Elite) set up in a window.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Black+Decker rolls with ease and is easy to carry. It has virtually no rolling resistance and maneuvers similarly to the SereneLife. It's one of the lightest products in the review and is easier to carry than some other models. The handles on this product are just a bit too small, making lifting more challenging. Finally, its window insert is more work to mount and remove, requiring a screwdriver, which knocks its overall portability score down a bit.

Rounding out the back end of the group is the Vremi 10,000 BTU and Whynter ARC-14SH. The Whynter has very little rolling resistance but is a bit funky in maneuverability, as it swerves randomly and doesn't seem to like rolling in a straight line. It's also challenging to carry, weighing in at 77.2 pounds. On top of that, it has tiny handles and isn't easy to hold. However, the window insert is easy to install and offers plenty of adjustability.

portable air conditioner - most of the models we tested were fairly quiet. some not so much.
Most of the models we tested were fairly quiet. Some not so much.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


After lugging these air conditioners up and down staircases and across rooms, we were ready for a test that required a little less physical exertion. The noise metric consists of two tests: noise levels measured with our SPL meter and having a panel of testers rate the sound produced by each product.

When it comes to sound, the Whynter ARC-122DS Elite and the Whynter ARC-14SH claim the top spots for being the least obtrusive. We measured the noise level from four feet away, with the meter's microphone out of the direct airflow of each portable air conditioner, and these two had some of the lowest results.

In particular, our judges appreciated that the Whynter models are exceptionally quiet, noting that what little sound they do produce isn't excessively grating to the ear — something more akin to static or white noise that easily blends into the background.

The Black+Decker is above average in terms of sound output. It's a bit louder than the top models but doesn't have any standout tones, making it a better option if you can deal with white noise. Finishing at the back of the pack in this metric, the SereneLife is a touch noisier.

portable air conditioner - the fan on the serenelife can be a bit distracting.
The fan on the SereneLife can be a bit distracting.
Credit: Laura Casner

The fan seemed pointedly loud to us on the SereneLife — enough that it could cause problems if you were trying to carry on a conversation close to it.

portable air conditioner - the black+decker has a clearly labeled easy to use interface.
The Black+Decker has a clearly labeled easy to use interface.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Energy Cost

For our last rating metric, we estimated how much it would cost to run each of these models annually and, thus, how efficient they are. We assumed we would run each of these units for 12 hours a day for 90 days for our calculation. We also assumed that the 12 hours were split, with two hours of the AC being on a high setting to initially drop the temperature when you come home, then run on low for the remaining 10 hours to maintain the temperature at a comfortable level. We used 0.135 US cents per kWh for the cost of electricity in our calculations.

To determine each unit's average power consumption, we measured each model's energy draw for 30 minutes with a wattmeter on both low and high modes when the outside temperature was in the mid to high 80s. Of course, the number we arrived at for the annual cost isn't necessarily going to be true for you, as electricity prices can vary wildly across different areas at different times of the day and throughout the year. You may be in the tropics and need to run the AC 365 days a year, in which case your annual cost will be tremendously higher than ours, but the relative ranking of the AC units should remain the same.

Living in a Hot Climate?
If you are living in an area where you are going to be running the air conditioner during more than just the hottest summer months, you probably want to place a higher priority on this metric and take a closer look at models that performed well in these tests.

The Black+Decker and the SereneLife topped the list in this metric. We estimate the Black+Decker would consume about 864 kWh throughout the summer. This assumption correlates to a projected cost of around $114 for the Black+Decker.

The SereneLife would cost just a bit more to run on our estimated use profile, costing around $116 over the 90 days and consuming 883.8 kWh.

portable air conditioner - the serenelife consumed much less electricity than some of the other...
The SereneLife consumed much less electricity than some of the other models in our tests.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Whynter ARC-14SH earned low ratings in our power consumption metric. Our projected summer operating cost spiked with this model, and we estimate that it would add around $160 to your electricity bill.

portable air conditioner - remotes are handy when you are feeling too lazy to get up off the...
Remotes are handy when you are feeling too lazy to get up off the couch.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman


At this point, we hope you're armed with a solid idea about which air conditioner is going to be your best bet. We believe that it's important to consider your budget and needs to beat the sweltering summer heat. You'll want to ensure that the unit of your choosing is portable and cool enough for your intended uses.

Austin Palmer and David Wise